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WD Raptor 10K RMP versus new 7K RPM Platter versus new SSD

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October 26, 2012 12:13:12 AM

I currently have a WD Raptor 36 GB Serial ATA 10K / 8MB / SATA-150 Hard Drive in a Win XP Pro machine with 2 GB of Ram. (I also have a 250 GB secondary drive with all my docs/pics/vids etc) I use this machine mostly for business and am looking at upgrading to a larger drive as the WD 36gb is getting full. I am considering either a 7200 RPM HD or an SSD. The MB is currently capable of 3 gb/s sata connections.

To sum it up
1) Can I run Win XP Pro on an SSD?

2) If not, is a modern 7200 RMP HD with higher cache and running on SATA2 faster than my Raptor running at 10000 RPM on SATA1?

3) For smaller read/writes to MS Access is speed really going to make much difference other than for larger DB searches?

Clearly an SSD would be the fastest option. However, I understand they don't work very well for Win XP Pro? Is this true? (Part of my hesitation to go with an SSD is because I use a proprietary MS Access program that a) supposedly doesn't run well in a 64 bit environment and b) my vendor doesn't know how well it will run in win 7 although I guess the XP mode in Win 7 Pro is an option) If I got Win 7 loaded and it didn't run well if an SSD doesn't work with Win XP Pro putting that on as a backup plan is not an option.

That is what makes a 7200RPM HD an option because I know I could put Win XP Pro on it with no problems if Win 7 didn't work out. So my question in this case is....... Are the modern 7200 RPM HDD at either 6 gb/s or 3gb/s with more cache as fast as or faster than my old WD Raptor? If the answer is no then I will probably just reload Win XP Pro on my trusty old Raptor and put some more of the programs I don't use on a secondary drive.

Thanks in Advance!!!
a c 107 G Storage
October 26, 2012 7:44:59 AM

1) You can run XP on an SSD but it will not run as well as Windows 7 due to lack of native TRIM support. I would recommend not using an SSD with XP.

2) XP mode works very well in Windows 7 Ultimate and Pro.

3) A modern 7200RPM drive will run circles around that ancient Raptor. The drives being SATA 2 ( 3Gb/s ) or SATA 3 ( 6Gb/s ) does not really matter. No mechanical drives can move enough data to saturate a SATA 2 interface much less SATA 3. The drives can move tiny amounts of info by way of the cache but making a mechanical drive SATA 3 is only done because a common interface is cheaper. Only when dealing with an SSD is the SATA interface an issue to be concerned with.
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October 26, 2012 5:44:10 PM

I didn't know about HD Tune (thanks fzabkar) but was able to run tests on my current drives after downloading it. Maybe you can help me interpret the results. Which is more important....the transfer rates or the access times? How would these compare to new 7200 RPM drives or an SSD drive running on SATA2 (Think it probably makes sense to buy SATA3 in case I ever upgrade my MB...right?) Do I interpret correctly that my secondary drive would actually be better then the Raptor as my primary drive? I was thinking of getting a WD Black 1TB (and maybe eventually getting a SSD and using the Black for storage) but would it be significantly better than the Seagate I have?

For my application (using a program reading and writing to an MS Access DB) is the HD going to make a significant improvement or am I splitting hairs?

The WD Raptor
Min 27.6
Avg 46.9
Max 55.0
Access 8.54 s

Secondary Drive is a Seagate Barracuda
Min 54.0
Avg 81.2
Max 91.7
Access 15.4 s

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a c 288 G Storage
October 26, 2012 7:10:33 PM

Access time wins out for small files, but sustained transfer rate trumps access time for large files.

The difference in the average transfer rate is about 34 MB/s, and the difference in average access time is about 7ms. In 7ms the difference in data transferred would be about 240 KB, so this would suggest that if your files are larger than this, then the Seagate would be the faster proposition. However this assumes that your data would be randomly distributed throughout the drive.

If OTOH you were to create a 36GB partition at the beginning of your 250GB Seagate HDD, and use this as you would your Raptor, then the effective access time would possibly be better than your Raptor. In fact the following article explains how a short stroked Barracuda can outperform a Raptor for a fraction of the cost:

http://www.techwarelabs.com/seagate_1-5tb-mod/


Edit:

I'm sorry, my calculation was badly in error. I believe that the file size which marks the break-even point is more like 800KB, not 240KB.

AISI, the Raptor arrives on track after 8ms and begins transferring data at a rate (R) of 47MB/s. Some 7ms later the Seagate arrives on track and begins transferring data at a rate (S) of 81MB/s. Initially the Raptor is ahead of the Seagate but at some later time (t) the Seagate catches up and exceeds the Raptor.

The amount of data transferred (in KB) at time t is ...

R x t

... for the Raptor and ...

S x (t - 7)

... for the Seagate, where R/S are in MB/s and t is in milliseconds

At the breakeven point ...

R x t = S x (t - 7)

So ...

t = 7S / (S-R)

and total data transferred is ...

R x t = 7SR / (S-R)

= 7 x 81 x 47 / (34)

= 784KB
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a c 107 G Storage
October 26, 2012 7:25:56 PM

An SSD on the other hand wins hugely in both access time and transfer rate. Even an older SSD like my 2 year old Vertex 2 will be a giant improvement over any mechanical drive. In fact it's so fast that only now am I becoming tempted to replace it with a newer, larger SSD just to have more space.
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a b G Storage
October 26, 2012 7:35:32 PM

This is a slightly different answer to your question and may or may not be a little too complex for you.

Win7 does have a pretty good winXP mode but it does not always work. My recommendation would be to run a win7 machine on a larger ssd drive (120). I would then create a virtual machine that would run XP and then would not have any problems with your Access program. If you purchase a large enough SSD then you should be able to put both the win7 OS and the virtual machine on the SSD.

This solution seems ideal to me because you will finally be able to upgrade to win7 but with a little tweaking of the VM you should have no problem getting a good work flow from it. I have done this with many legacy programs at work and there is usually a solution that works out for everyone.
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October 26, 2012 8:48:16 PM

Sounds like the answer to Raptor versus existing Seagate has the Raptor as the winner. I am an executive recruiter so the files are MS Word Docs (mostly 2-4 page resumes) that look to be mostly smaller then 100KB. Accessed much more frequently.....the other read/writes to the MS Access DB, are pulling up company and candidate records and updating names, phone numbers, notes, etc which I have to guess are very small read/writes as well right???? And if access time wins for files that small than the Raptor would be better than any of the new 7200 RPM HDDs as well right? I guess that raises another question in my mind and that is that if these are such small data transfers, is going to an SSD (clearly they have much better access times) going to be a perceptable difference (I mean we are talking ms and not full seconds right?) in pulling up my records from the DB? I have to imagine searching the DB would be much quicker on an SSD (again.....would that be perceptable). For transferring larger files you guys make it pretty clear the SSD is the winner hands down....that just isn't something I do regularly.

In terms of the VM on Win7...is that different than XP Mode? Or is that akin to a dual boot type situation? Would that run in a diff win like XP Mode or how does that work........I am itching to get to Win7 and I guess go with an SSD but I have to make sure I can run my legacy software.
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a b G Storage
October 26, 2012 9:05:54 PM

I think there may have been some miscommunication here. SSDs have there biggest performance benefits when accessing small random files and that is because they have much faster seek times that HDDs. However their throughput is also faster than HDDs. Basically there are only very few (and specific) times that an HDDs will be better suited to accomplish a task faster than an SSD.

If you don't know what a VM is then you have a bit of research to do before you go down that road. There are some good programs that make VMs very simple now but the tweaks are what make them very useful and that con still be complicated.

A Virtual Machine is created using a program like VMware or VirtualBox. It starts up like any other program but a VM program window is an entirely new desktop/computer.

XP mode in Win7 is kind of a dumbed down version of a VM. A VM that you really have no control over. Dual booting is an entirely different beast all together and VMs are nothing like dual booting as you use one operating system to fun the virtual machine that creates the other one.
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October 29, 2012 12:23:03 PM

So in terms of upgrading my system (Core 2 Duo E6750 w/ 2 GB RAM); would I see more performance improvement by going to an SSD (even on a SATA2 board) or upgrading to a better CPU + more RAM? (I am on that MS Access based program all day long....assuming that is small random files where you mentioned SSD has it's biggest benefits)

I talked to a friend who mentioned running my legacy program on Win 7 32 bit had some issues with accessing MS Word files through the program (something about the compatability view) Oddly though, he said if you don't install the legacy program in the Program Files directory and just intall it in a new subfolder of the root directory that everything seems to be ok. Not sure why that is??? But he also thought the legacy program would work ok in the XP Mode. If the XP Mode works, that is probably best for my worst case scenario (meaning it won't play nice in Win 7) as I don't need to become a VM expert. But what advantages does a VM have over XP Mode? (You mentioned XP mode being a dumbed down version of VM)

Thanks again for all your insight.
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October 29, 2012 12:32:04 PM

Oppss...guess I forgot.....what SSD would be best (most reliable and easiest for a first time SSD user)? Looking at newegg looks like Intel, Samsung, and Crucial have the best ratings. Also sounds like 120GB-128GB would serve me well size wise without selling myself short. Looking at these two.

SAMSUNG 830 Series MZ-7PC128B/WW 2.5" 128GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) for $85 w/ free shipping

Intel 330 Series Maple Crest SSDSC2CT120A3K5 2.5" 120GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) for $99 with free shipping.

Open to other suggestions as well.
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